How I rediscovered the true magic of Christmas when I was chronically ill

I’ve always loved Christmas and everything that comes with it.

I like to think that I inherited a little bit of my grandma’s passion for Christmas (who amazingly prepared a five course meal followed by a huge tea for the entire family every year until the year before she passed away at the age of 82). 

Probably because I love Christmas so much, all the lights, decorations and especially Christmas trees give me a really happy feeling: a feeling of warmth, excitement and being loved. 

So not being able to put up our Christmas tree or any form of decorations last year when I was chronically ill and my multiple chemical sensitivity was at its worst was quite a sad moment for me.

And this year I still can’t help smiling each time I look at our tree.

But last year somehow when everything got stripped back, sad as it was, that’s when I rediscovered the true magic of Christmas and realised that tree or no tree, I had all the essential things and nothing else mattered.

When all the decorations were taken away, when I couldn’t even leave my house, when I had spent the previous 8 weeks introducing one ingredient each week just to be able to have a slice of cake by Christmas day, when I had spent the previous month hoping I’d be well enough to at least be able to enjoy some time with my loved ones, when the people who I was hoping to spend time with came to collect their chemical free cosmetics to be able to be in the same room as me, when even the people I couldn’t meet made it clear how much they cared for me and hoped one day things would get back to normal and I'd be able to meet them again; that’s when I realised how many things I used to take for granted before which I should always have been grateful for.

It was sad not to be able to be with my entire family and not to meet many of my friends and colleagues whom I would normally have met at Christmas time. 

And I’m so happy that I can meet anyone I want again this year. That I get to do my Christmas shopping in shops instead of online. That I can go to mass with my family instead of watching it on TV alone at home. That I can be out in the world again. And that there’s a Christmas tree in our living room again.

But there was something about having none of that that showed me just how much I actually had. 

And here's what I wrote about it on Facebook at Christmas time last year:

2015 has been a year of ups and downs, but definitely many more ups than downs.

For those who don’t know, after a year of ill health, I have recently been diagnosed with toxicant-induced loss of tolerance, numerous food sensitivities and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS).

In case you've never heard of it (I never had before my diagnosis), this is the best definition I found: "MCS is a chronic physical illness which can affect anyone at any stage of life. Sufferers have severe reactions to chemicals in everyday products, medicines and foods, and can have debilitating electro-sensitivities. Those who are worst affected become housebound unable to communicate with friends and family.” (MCS-Aware charity).

I react to so many things (to the point of almost losing consciousness at times) that I have been (almost completely) housebound for eight weeks now, apart from a daily walk by the sea which I love.

But the most important things haven’t changed. There might be no Christmas tree in our living room this year, but there is still so much love in our home. The support I have received from my husband, family, friends, boss and colleagues has been overwhelming.

So there might be no Christmas tree, but it doesn’t matter. There is still so much love and hope, and that’s all that matters.

Everything that happened in 2015 taught me these 10 lessons:

  1. That being surrounded by people you love is all you need to be happy.
  2. That my old definition of a “bad day” was rubbish.
  3. That life is really what you make of it (cliché but true!).
  4. That there were so many things I used to take for granted and shouldn’t have.
  5. That sometimes in life you need to slow down to appreciate the beauty in the simple things.
  6. That it’s possible to get excited over something as simple as home-made granola with home-made almond milk.
  7. That no matter what you’re going through, there are people who have it so, so much worse (not a comfort as I hate to hear sad stories, but it does help to keep things in perspective).
  8. That no matter how hard something seems, there is always hope that it will improve, whether the improvement is small or big.
  9. That even when it doesn’t seem so, God (or some higher power if you don’t believe in God) is always looking out for you.
  10. That one day you will look back on some of your difficult moments and understand that they happened for a reason.

Apologies for my long post, and well done if you’ve made it to the end :):)

I would like to wish you and your dear ones all a very happy Christmas and lots of happiness, health, love and laughter in 2016 x x x

So to sum it all up, I had never stopped loving Christmas but now I appreciate everything I have so much more. I’ll try to carry this lesson with me forever and I’ll always be grateful to everyone who helped me to get my life back and to those who walked with me every step of the way. 

And if you or anyone you know suffers from a mysterious, chronic illness, DNRS can give you your life back too.

You can read more about how I recovered through DNRS here or feel free to contact me. You can also subscribe to receive updates from the sidebar or below.